Reward systemI have always believed in the intrinsic value of learning and felt self-satisfaction, whenever I learned something new. I have spoken with many colleagues about what motivates a...

Reward system

I have always believed in the intrinsic value of learning and felt self-satisfaction, whenever I learned something new. I have spoken with many colleagues about what motivates a student to learn, and one is very adamant. He believes that if there was a system of payment for students to achieve grades, like a salary, then, they would be more successful. What do you think?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wouldn't it be nice if completing something came with an intrinsic reward for all students? For some it does. For some, it does not...and these are the ones we keep trying to reach.

I think the reward system sounds like a good idea in theory, but I don't know that it builds a sense of responsibility, of discipline, in older students. I try to offer small pieces of extra credit during the marking period. I even give students an ink stamp on vocab. tests where kids earn a 90% or better. To get their points, they need the "A," but then they only have to turn the graded test in to me at the end of the marking period.

It amazes me how many students won't take advantage of it. Even if it means the difference between one grade and the next higher (or lower) grade. And don't kids need to learn (and even some of us adults, under certain circumstances) that we are not always rewarded for what we do?

Parenting and teaching are perfect examples. If we wait for a pat on the back, we may be waiting a long time. We don't always get the credit we deserve, but that is generally not why we do the things we do in the first place. Some day these kids will be asked to do something that they will not be rewarded for: there may not even be a 'thank you.'

If we don't know how to complete a task without the promise of a reward as adults, we will resent a world that asks more than what we are prepared to give. Flexibility is essential, especially in today's market, when we are asked to go the extra mile.

Rewards are good. On occasion, perhaps a review game or something the kids would enjoy at the end of a lesson, is a worthwhile idea. Kids, and teachers, need a break from time to time. But I would personally not do so on a regular basis. Providing the treat for the entire class guarantees that everyone benefits, and it is more valuable to the students when it is special rather than a weekly occurrence.

Just a thought.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hasn't there recently been an experiment that showed that kids (at least in a low-income area in some US city did much better at reading when they were paid to read?  I'll look for a link about that and add it if I can find it.

The thing is, I think people like us value learning for its own sake and so we expect everyone else to do the same.  But not everyone is like us, just as there are things that others value that we don't.  So I really do think that paying students would be a pretty good idea.

Here's a link to the story I remembered -- looks at lots of different kinds of experiements with pay...,8599,1978589,00.html

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A few years ago, a teacher wrote Emerson's words "The reward of a job well done is the job itself."  A student asked her, "Why did you write that?  Those words are not true. If someone does not get paid for a job, it is worthless."

In this world of immediate gratification and materialism, there is little room for the advancement of pride in quality work or the satisfaction of earnest effort.   Paying students to learn...On the short end may work.  But, the next thing will be the formation of unions, then strikes, then inflated wages, then the students' work will be outsourced--where will it all end?  A government bail-out, perhaps?  Universal homework care?  

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The UK had a system of what were called EMA (can't remember what it stood for) payments linked to attendance of senior students. It did help some as a motivator. 

I think that a recognised system of reward within each institution is enough to motivate: I love my e-notes badges and they encourage me to contribute. In my school performance is rewarded with pay (although at mine I am not sure what sort of performance is rewarded...) and extra time. The latter, like the e-notes badge, is conspicuous and coveted. Students are just people; they want to be rewarded on a scale they see as worthy. 

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like to refer to all of the things I've read suggesting that attaching an external reward to any task (or a punishment for non-compliance) reduces any internal motivation to do that very same task.  So I think, particularly when it comes to learning, that attaching even more rewards/punishments than we already have in the form of grades, advancement, degrees, salary scale advancements, etc. is a rather negative thing in the long run.

But it does push up test scores in the short run...

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting topic as I would hope that the rewards of intrinsic motivation would be greater than extrinsic motivation (such as money). However, giving students some kind of reward or certificate that is tangible and visible can be a great motivator. Just think about your own approach to enotes - clearly one of the key reasons we do this is to supplement our pitiful teaching salary, but at the same time the badges that we get are a great motivator to work harder.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pay a student and he will make whatever effort is necessary to get paid.  Therefore, you can achieve short term learning goals with this, albeit at a reduced rate of retention, since their motivation isn't to learn.  Intrinsic motivators, where a student is hungry for knowledge and wants to learn, truly, learns to learn, will have a greater success rate over the long run.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems as though students today are much more interested in the extrinsic rewards than in the intrinsic rewards. Most of us have started doing something for an extrinsic reward, we then are able to take that and internalize it and do it for the intrinsic rewards, so many of today's students are unable to internalize the learning.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nearly everyone responds to external motivation for achievement in some area of life, and for kids who value money, that's as good a motivator as anything. I agree with someone above who says often the external motivation will inspire an internal motivation. At least that's the hope. Seems to me not much is lost by trying.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In life, our jobs pay us for successful work. However, we have learned and trained to get to that level and to move up through the levels. Paying students to get good grades does not encourage intrinsic motivation and it would create more of a sense of entitlement as they progress through school.

aroua | Student

rewarding sysytem is an interesting system and it works with my students. they are working harder in order to have rewards... rewards play the role of a push to the student but i think it is somehow affecting them because they are more interested in the rewarding process rather than the learning one.

i-am-urmi | Student

Well, everyone is attracted to awards. It's only natural. So, I think if you offer a student something he/she really wants on the condition of attaining good grades, 99% chance is that it's gonna work; or at least the student will make a conscious effort in his/her studies. That's what my mother does to me anyway, so trust me, it works! ;)